People must lift each other up, be lights to the struggling

Writer and philosopher GK Chesterton once said, “We men and women are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea. We owe to each other a terrible and tragic loyalty.”

As the chairperson for the upcoming Catholic Men’s Conference (presented by Pilgrim Center of Hope), which takes place Saturday, not only do I agree with Chesterton, but I believe we are all called to do something about it.

Too many of us as Christians have forgotten that our primary call is to discipleship. Instead, we have settled into doing the bare minimum with no call, risk or challenge.

The Bible tells us that, “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).

Combine that with the two Great Commandments of loving God above all else and loving your neighbor, and you see why I believe that it is imperative for us to lift each other up and do everything possible to be a light to those who are struggling with life’s pressures, who have lost their way and who have lost all hope.

Each year, the Catholic Men’s Conference of San Antonio features dynamic speakers who educate and challenge men to be better husbands, fathers, leaders and friends. Our presenters for 2019 include Father Larry Richards, Father Ken Geraci, CPM, Dr. Ralph Martin, and Bishop Michael Boulette. By coming together as a band of Christian brothers, we will encourage and inspire one another to grow spiritually and go from good to great in our faith lives.

The conference is open to men of all faiths. Whatever your state in life, it is never to late to begin anew in Christ. All of us would like to be better versions of ourselves. We all have room to grow. We all need to be challenged, otherwise, we will never step out of our comfort zones or the accelerator-down lifestyle that is overwhelming far too many.

The great theologian and scholar St. Thomas Aquinas once said, “The four typical substitutes for God are wealth, pleasure, power and honor.”

The pursuit of and focus on these worldly desires an often be the cause of the stormy seas that batter us on our life’s journey. They can also be obstructions (a form of blindness) to a more fulfilling spiritual life.

Fourteen years ago, when the conference was established, we chose as our theme Mark 10:51, “Master, I want to see” – because it resonated with lots of men who found themselves feeling dissatisfied with life despite having achieved the dreams of having a successful career, a beautiful family, and being a productive member of society.

It was St. Augustine who said, “Our heart is restless, until it rests in you (God).” Attending the 2019 Catholic Men’s Conference will provide all men an opportunity to encounter Jesus. It will also offer the direction and resources, the tools, to find Him in the sacraments and Scripture – and even more importantly, in each other and in the world around us.

When a man has these transformational experiences, his faith is deepened and he develops a stronger commitment to Christ. This is when a man is able to touch others in profound ways and do what St. Francis of Assisi encouraged: “Preach Christ at all times, if necessary use words.”

This column written by Robert V. Rodriguez originally appeared in the San Antonio Express-News Belief section on Sunday, February 17, 2019.